It's October. You know what that means? 31 Days of Horror! Uh...so...that didn't quite work out the way I wanted. Started off with Re-Animator and Prince of Darkness, but then Hest Fest came and I got all kinds of distracted. And it was a mighty Hest Fest. That is, it was after we got over the hump of boring that was the Gray Lady Down/Mother Lode double feature. Seriously, those movies were super dull. But then came El Cid and a double dose of Shakespeare -- and of course, The Omega Man & Planet of the Apes will save any film festival. It doesn't get any manlier than those two.
Besides all that Hest, read a bunch of comics, watched the Fringe premiere, and played a whole lot of Arkham City. I'm not much for video games, but when I'm feeling a little stressed it's real easy to escape into the demented mind of Hugo Strange.
TV OF THE WEEK!
Fringe Season 5 - Episode One "Transilience Thought Unifier Model 11": The final season of Fringe is off and running and its pretty gosh darn weird. We've jumped nearly thirty years into the future. The Observers have enslaved humanity, and the Fringe team has awoken from an amber sleep to be greeted with egg sticks and the now adult daughter of Olivia & Peter. Only Walter holds the key to taking down the bald baddies but his brain has been jumbled by September. Any of this make sense to you? If you haven't been watching this show from the beginning than I'm guessing not. But that's what's so great about this show. You're in or you're out. And who know what horrors Fringe Devision is going to face before presumably saving the day....gulp.
MOVIES OF THE WEEK!
Re-Animator: "I've never done whole parts." Delirious soap opera horror squeezed fresh from the words of HP Lovecraft and lovingly wrung through the demented humor of Dennis Paoli & Stuart Gordon. Jeffery Combs is the perfection of smug as mad scientist Herbert West, and he delivers each line of dialog with know-it-all vitriol and it's star-makingly charming. Re-Animator is gross, gross, gross and damn funny. Simply, a classic.
Looper: Not the time travel film I was expecting, but I thoroughly enjoyed this Terminator venture thanks to Joseph Gordon-Levitt's mimicry and Bruce Willis' somewhat adorable old dog charm. It's impressive how likable they are considering that both versions of the Looper assassin are psychotic scumbags no matter how many women they fall for. The climactic payoff is satisfying, but for me, the journey to the credits was more enthralling than the obvious destination. Emily Blunt is solid as Sara and Jeff Daniels is tyrannically beardy, but Looper works best when its two stars are sharing the screen.
Prince of Darkness: "This is caca." Not my favorite John Carpenter film. But not my least favorite either (thanks to The Ward). Every time I press play on this flick I think I'm going to enjoy it more than I ultimately do. Jameson Parker (of Simon & Simon!!!!!) is not Tom Atkins, and this film could have used some serious Tom Atkins. Donald Pleasence is typically gravitas and doom & gloomy. Victor Wong is somehow freaky heroic and dashing. And Dennis Dun is a solid scaredy cat. But Jameson Parker is one boring mustache man and he makes for a terrible leading man. Which is a bummer cuz SIMON & SIMON ROCKS!
Gray Lady Down: Despite an incredible cast of Navy Men (Charlton Heston, Ronny Cox, Stephen McHattie, Stacey Keach, Christopher Reeve, David Carradine, Ned Beatty) this underwater disaster film is a bit of a snooze. A radarless Norwegian cargo ship blindly rams into the USS Neptune sending it into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. The Navy scrambles to rescue the tin can sailors as they bicker amongst each other. Lots of rising and diving and rising and diving and rising and diving...the drama becomes tiresome after a while punctuated with David Carradine's endless know-it-all eye rolls. Just watch Earthquake instead.
Mother Lode: Boring! So Very Boring! Nick Mancuso and Kim Basinger travel into British Columbia in search of their bush pilot buddy and a whole heap of gold. What they find is crazy ass Scottish miner Charlton Heston and his even crazier pick wielding twin brother. And dammit, despite have twin Hestons, The Mother Lode is a painfully dull film saddled with two lifeless leads in Mancuso & Bassinger. Give it a miss.
El Cid: "Can a man live without honor?" Gorgeous sweeping historical epic directed by Anthony Mann and starring the unpenetrably altruistic Charlton Heston as El Cid, the Spanish warrior who brought Christians & Muslims together to war with meaner, more evil Muslim conquerors. The first half of the film is incredibly gripping as he slays his soon-to-be-father-in-law, earns the contempt of his fiance Sophia Loren, and jousts brutally for his honor. The second half is more typical hero stuff, but its the devious mindgames with his true love & her assassin suitor that appeals to my demented noggin over the monstrous battlefield clashes of extras that conclude the picture.
Julius Caesar: A somewhat shaky but enjoyable adaptation, Charlton Heston is theatrically grandios as Marc Antony looking to score some payback against Brutus and his goon squad. Jason Robards doesn't quite fit as Robards, he feels far too modern for the language but Richard Johnson is a solid foil as the diabolical Cassius. John Gielgud simply shows up to read his lines as Caesar, but his Ides of March mutilation is appropriately, violently grim. This is probably not going to be your go-to Shakespearean adaptation but it gets the job done.
Antony and Cleopatra: Two years after Julius Caesar, Charlton Heston returns to the role of Marc Antony is this rather pedestrian production. Don't get me wrong, it looks and sounds like a million bucks, but I've just never gravitated towards this supposedly tragic love affair involving the loins of Rome & Egypt. Heston does what Heston does best, venomously spitting epic proclamations and supporting the weight of the ancient world. Hildegard Neil draws the short straw as Cleopatra, she comes off simply bitchy and not the proper warrior Queen she most certainly was.
The Omega Man: "You're the angel of death brother. Not us." This jab from hooded mutant Anthony Zerbe is the closest this adaptation gets to the climactic them of Richard Matheson's utterly brilliant horror novel I Am Legend. But despite lacking the brutality and genuine horror of the novel, The Omega Man is still a classic of high brow B Movie entertainment. Desperately trying to maintain his sanity, Heston battles the pasty pancaked creatures of the night with an array of high powered rifles and the very best assortment of 1970s fashion. Seriously, these mutants couldn't possibly take down a man brave enough to wear ruffles. And, you know what? Unlike the more recent I Am Legend film, Neville's sudden second reel relationship with tough chick Rosalind Cash is welcomed; if only the narrative would allow them the opportunity to rule as King & Queen of the Apocalypse.
Planet of the Apes: "What are you afraid of Doctor?" Before Hest Fest, I liked Planet of the Apes. Having now watched this film every year for the last five years, I am happy to proclaim this film as one of my all time favorites. I absolutely love what a bastard Heston is for the first 30 minutes of the film. His ship has crashed in the barren wastes of the Forbidden Zone. The past is dead. The future don't look much prettier. He laughs in the face of his fellow astronauts - adapt or die, my friends. Then the apes come and all reality is shaken. Planet of the Apes is an incredibly progressive film centering on the never ending battle between Faith vs Science...plus Monkeys!!!! With Guns!!!! Can't get enough of this flick.
Wonder Woman - Blood: Ok. So I don't think I disliked this book as much as Matt did, but I was profoundly disappointed. People have been going ga-ga for Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang's God War book but I couldn't help but see it as a wannabe Sandman story with an unwanted dash of very 90s gothy fetishizing. And I don't dig Chiang's art. I appreciate how his Wonder Woman towers over other characters but she looks mannish, not Amazonian. I'm curious to see where this Apollo stuff goes, so I'm going to keep reading, but I just can't join the lovefest for this book.
Fatale #8: The 70s set section of this book is starting to come together. The first half of this issue explores the childhood memories (nightmares) of Nicholas Lash while he's fleeing those undead cultists. We get to see old man Hank (the hero of Volume 1) pleading with the seemingly immortal Josephine and we we also get a glimpse at what the demonic Hansel has been up to since his blinding. And let's not forget about poor Miles, lapping at the bedsheets of Josephine, who most certainly will come to a grisly and horrifying end in the next couple of issues. Again, if you're not reading Fatale than you're not reading the best monthly book on the market. My only complaint is that I have to wait a month (or more) between issues.
Batman - Detective Comics #13: With the arrival of John Layman (Chew, Mars Attacks!) as writer, I started reading yet another Batman book. It's a Penguin story and not that amazing. But it's a good, solid, typical Batman story. Hopefully it's hinting at larger things, but with Scott Snyder knocking it out of the park with The Court of Owls (and hopefully the upcoming Death of the Family) it's hard to get jazzed on a "good, solid, typical" story.
Fatima - The Blood Spinners #4: The madness comes to a close. And I don't know what I really thought of this book. I definitely enjoyed the insanity (or was it absurdity) of this Gilbert Hernandez mini but was it actually good? Not sure, yet. It was definitely gross. Super gross. But the pacing was all kinds of crazy-jumping from panel to panel, from seemingly random plot point to random plot point. Still, no one can quite make me queasy with gore the way Hernandez can, and I find that to be somewhat amusing. Demented indie darling.
Legends of the Dark Knight #1: Only picked this one up for the Damon Lindelof/Jeff Lemire short story, and I'll only continue with it depending on who they get for the rest of the shorts. Their story is a cute, if painful point put upon Bruce by his loyal teacher Alfred. When The Bat starts to get smug than it's up to the Butler to teach him a lesson. The second story by Jonathan Larsen & JG Jones proves why Batman's on the Justice League and why Amazo is a super lame villain. And the third story shows that Bats is just as good at pre-crime as any player in Minority Report or Persons of Interest. I don't imagine I'll be remembering this issue after a couple of weeks but it killed some time for this Bat fan. Plus, Shark Repellent still comes in handy.
Daredevil - End of Days #1: I'm really curious about this mini series. Brian Michael Bendis' original run on Daredevil was one of the books that brought me back to comics, and even if these "The End" stories tend to disappoint I'm really excited to see what Bendis has in store for Daredevil's last battle. The first issue opens in the middle of a VS. fight between ol' horn head and his arch nemesis Bullseye. A few panels in and Matt Murdock's brains have been dashed upon the sidewalk. His final word is not "Rosebud" but it might as well have been, and it's up to die hard reporter Ben Urich to find the truth behind the death of the Hell's Kitchen vigilante. A good start, and I look forward to the next issue.
Bloodshot #3: With this issue we're finally getting a look at the bigger picture. Bloodshot and his hostage invade the home of Mrs. Spellman, the woman used by government mad scientists as a model for his fantasy wife. But they're not the only invaders. A squadron of universal soldiers are charging down the highway and they're packing a human atom bomb capable of disabling Bloodshot's nanobots. Or something. For a character I never once gave a crap about, this series is turning into a pleasant surprise.
Wolverine and the X-Men #17: Speaking of pleasant surprises...Wolverine & the X-Men #17 was withoutadoubt the most fun I had while reading a comic book this week. Yep. I'm not really an X-Men fan, at least not so much anymore. And the only reason I bought this issue was because Mike Allred was pulling the art duties. I don't know who or what Doop is. I vaguely remember the X-Statix & X-Force books in which he originally appeared but I never read them. That's gotta change. In this issue we learn that Doop is the only thing keeping the X-Men free from The League of Nazi Bowlers, the devil music of...Satan, the mutant hating PTA, and the robo army of dimension ZZZ. Well, Howard The Duck and a gun that shoots bees leant a helping hand as well. This issue is totally mental, silly as hell, and an absolute hoot. I Forced Matt to read it, however I don't think he appreciated it as much as I did, but dammit! Doop vs The Flame War Nun! That's some serious genius.